In finishing my basement all 3 of my supply lines will be near the
ceiling at 3 different corners of the basement. For the cold-air
return, I can either place it in the middle of the room near the
ceiling, or in the fourth corner of the room near the floor. I
realize that it really should be near the floor in the middle of the
room, but that just is not possible for me. So my question is which
is generally better - to have the return in the middle of the room and
have it near the ceiling, or to have it off to the side, but near the
Assuming it's mainly heating for the basement, I'd go with the
return near the floor. If it's at the ceiling and the supplies are
there, you may have much of the heat staying up top. But on the
other hand, if it's all living space above that's heated too, may
not matter all that much as the warm air at the top will contribute
to heating the house too.
For maximum comfort during the heating season you want the supply
registers down near the floor and the return(s) (roughly equal in size
to the supplies) also near the floor. During the cooling and
dehumidifying season you'd want them all in the ceiling with the
capability to open or close them depending on the season. This is
ideal if someone is actually going to live in the basement (like a
bedroom). If the basement is just for occasional use then just try to
balance the supply and return and be sure to wear shoes or slippers
during the winter. If the return is less then the supply then you'll
suffer a bit for comfort and the conditioned air will try to go
upstairs or up the chimney if you have an older furnace Don't put the
return(s) too near a supply vent. Many basements don't have any return
so some is better than none.
My Minnesota 30-year-old rambler basement stays in the mid sixties
throughout the year and I don't condition it, although it is setup for
it and is insulated. The floor is cold (mid 50's year round), but I
only use it to hide from the rest of the family. If it was too
comfortable, it wouldn't be a good place to hide. When I put in a new
furnace a year and a half ago I discovered that the returns in half of
the upper house (entry, kitchen, family and living rooms) were not
connected to the furnace. (Must have been a bad day for the HVAC
guys.) Strangely enough, I also had a 3" return drawing air directly
from the attic and I closed that off. Connecting things properly did
improve the comfort and energy savings in the house during both
seasons. I run the heat pump till it hits 20 degrees F and have been
saving a lot of money there as well.
Good luck with the project. I think you are on the right track.
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